Major League Baseball (MLB) is set to make its European debut in 2019 with two games to be hosted in London.
Baseball has long been synonymous with America's culture, earning its affectionate badge of being 'America's pastime'. Despite this strong affiliation baseball has never struggled to gain global popularity.
It is 20 years since the MLB began to stage its inaugural overseas fixtures which this year saw regular season games in Mexico and Puerto Rico; however, 2019 will be the first year MLB has ventured into Europe.
London will play host to two regular season games between arch-rivals the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox on 29th and 30th June as part of a two-year commitment to the capital. These teams represent two of the most storied franchises in the game, which stems back to 1920 when the Sox sold Babe Ruth to the Yankees which led to the Sox failing to win a World Series for 86 years.
Europe represents a key growth market for the MLB both commercially and in terms of fan-base. The MLB already has a strong merchandising and licensing presence in Europe with the longstanding use of its teams emblems in fashion wear. Europeans have been viewed as MLB brand ambassadors for sometime.
London has been selected on a time-zone and language basis in addition to sport crazed Brits have an unprecedented ability to sellout events of this nature.
The venue for this monumental venture is the 66,000 seater London Stadium; which has welcomed the addition to their event calendar as a lucrative revenue stream.
Whilst Europe represents unchartered territory for the MLB, US sport is well and truly embedded itself in British culture of late with both the NFL and NBA staging games here since 2007 and 2011 respectively.
MLB has a lot of catching up to do compared to its established counterparts but it is still ahead of the curve when compared to the NHL which is the only remaining major US sporting league which is yet to venture across the pond.
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